Several years ago, Tobie Kerridge and Nikki Stott, design researchers at the Royal College of Art, and Ian Thompson, a bioengineer at King’s College London, teamed up to create wedding bands from bone cells extracted from five volunteer couples.
According to a BBC News article, “The scientists extracted the participants’ wisdom teeth to get at a sliver of bone that attaches them to the jawbone.” After extracting the bone cells for culture, “These are fed with nutrients and grown on a ‘scaffold’ material called bioglass, a special bioactive ceramic which mimics the structure of bone material.” It was a “long and fragile” process, but basically took place in the following steps:
1. Extract bone chips from jaw. Rinse.
2. Place bone cells in ring-shaped bioactive ceramic scaffold.
3. Feed liquid nutrients and culture in a temperature-controlled bioreactor for six weeks.
4. After coral-like bone forms fully around scaffold, pare down to final ring shape and insert silver liner (for engraving).
Of course, there is more potential for this project than just offbeat wedding rings made from the beloved’s own bone cells. It could eventually be used to grow bone replacements for implantation, so that the bone required to, say, repair a damaged jaw, wouldn’t have to be harvested from a piece of a rib or elsewhere in the body.
This is kind of cool. Why kill an animal for ivory if you can just grow your own bone. I’m a strange enough person that I might give it a go if the price is right.
@ Walls Blank: I would do it, too, but I’m sure it would be really, ridiculously expensive at this point. Maybe in “The Future”… Just imagine people asking where you got your ring from, and you’d say, “It’s made from my bone cells.” Wearing a piece of your own bone as an accessory on the outside of your body is a bit weird, but cool, and why not? It’s not any weirder than wearing ivory, and, I agree, much, much more humane; at least it would belong to you in every way.
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